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Orange County, CA

Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) in Carlsbad, CA

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What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a group of symptoms that impact your digestive system. It's a common but uncomfortable gastrointestinal disorder. Individuals with IBS have excessive gas, abdominal pain, and cramps.

Who is at risk of developing IBS?

The condition most often develops in people in their late teens to early 40s. Women can be twice as likely as men to get IBS. IBS can happen to multiple family members.

You may be at higher risk if you have:

  • Family history of IBS
  • Emotional stress, tension or anxiety
  • Food intolerance
  • History of physical or sexual abuse
  • Serious digestive tract infection

Symptoms of IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) manifests in a variety of symptoms that can significantly impact an individual's quality of life. Understanding the nuances of these symptoms is crucial for effective management and treatment. Here's a closer look at the key symptoms of IBS:

  1. Abdominal Pain or Cramps: One of the hallmark symptoms of IBS is abdominal pain or discomfort. This pain is typically experienced in the lower half of the abdomen and can vary in intensity from mild to severe. It may be described as cramping, stabbing, or aching and may come and go.
  2. Bloating: Many individuals with IBS experience bloating, which is a feeling of fullness or swelling in the abdomen. Bloating can be accompanied by visible swelling or distention of the abdomen and can contribute to discomfort and self-consciousness.
  3. Changes in Bowel Habits: IBS can cause alterations in bowel habits, leading to changes in the frequency, consistency, and urgency of bowel movements. These changes may include:
  4. Diarrhea: Some individuals with IBS experience frequent, loose, or watery stools, often accompanied by a sense of urgency.
  5. Constipation: Others may have difficulty passing stools, leading to infrequent bowel movements or straining during bowel movements.
  6. Alternating Bowel Habits: Many individuals with IBS experience alternating episodes of diarrhea and constipation, with periods of normal bowel function in between.
  7. Excess Gas: Gas and flatulence are common symptoms of IBS and can contribute to abdominal discomfort and embarrassment. Excessive gas production may be exacerbated by certain foods or dietary factors.
  8. Mucus in Stool: Some individuals with IBS may notice the presence of mucus in their stool, which can appear whitish or translucent. Mucus production in the stool is often associated with inflammation or irritation of the intestinal lining.
  9. Menstrual Symptoms: Women with IBS may find that their symptoms worsen during their menstrual periods. Hormonal fluctuations associated with menstruation can exacerbate abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.

Understanding the frequency, severity, and patterns of these symptoms is essential for accurately diagnosing and managing IBS.

Common Triggers of IBS

If you have IBS, you may have found that certain things produce symptoms. Common triggers include some foods and medication. Psychological stress can also be a trigger. Some researchers suggest that IBS is the gut's response to life's stressors.

Identifying and avoiding triggers can help individuals with IBS manage their symptoms more effectively. Here are some common triggers of IBS to be aware of:

  1. Dietary Factors:
  2. High-FODMAP Foods: Certain carbohydrates known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) can exacerbate IBS symptoms. Common high-FODMAP foods include onions, garlic, wheat, dairy products, certain fruits, and legumes.
  3. Caffeine: Beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and sodas, can stimulate the digestive system and trigger symptoms in some individuals with IBS.
  4. Alcohol: Alcohol consumption can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and worsen symptoms of bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.
  5. Medications:
  6. Antibiotics: Prolonged or frequent use of antibiotics can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and exacerbate symptoms of IBS.
  7. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, can irritate the digestive tract and worsen symptoms of abdominal pain and inflammation.
  8. Psychological Stressors:
  9. Emotional Stress: Psychological stress, tension, or anxiety can trigger or exacerbate symptoms of IBS. Stress management techniques, such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness, and therapy, may help reduce symptoms.
  10. History of Trauma: Individuals with a history of physical or sexual abuse may be at increased risk of developing IBS or experiencing more severe symptoms due to the impact of trauma on the nervous system and gastrointestinal function.

By identifying and avoiding these triggers, individuals with IBS can better manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. Working closely with a healthcare provider or dietitian can help develop personalized strategies for symptom management and dietary modification.

For further information about Dr. Stengler’s integrative approach to managing IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders, please visit our website at or call us at (760) 274-2377. You can also read more about this and other health topics in our Health Breakthroughs.

What are the causes of IBS?

Understanding the underlying causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is essential for effectively managing and treating this complex gastrointestinal disorder. While researchers have yet to pinpoint a single cause of IBS, they believe that a combination of factors contributes to its development. Here's a closer look at some of the potential causes of IBS:

  1. Dysmotility: Dysmotility refers to problems with the movement and coordination of the muscles in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In individuals with IBS, abnormalities in GI motility can lead to irregular or erratic contractions of the intestinal muscles, affecting the transit of food and waste through the digestive system. This dysregulation of motility can result in symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and alterations in bowel habits.
  2. Visceral Hypersensitivity: Visceral hypersensitivity refers to heightened sensitivity or exaggerated perception of sensations within the GI tract. In individuals with IBS, the nerves that innervate the intestines may become hypersensitive, leading to an increased perception of pain, discomfort, or bloating in response to normal stimuli. This heightened sensitivity can amplify the perception of symptoms and contribute to the severity of IBS symptoms.
  3. Brain-Gut Dysfunction: The connection between the brain and the gut, known as the brain-gut axis, plays a crucial role in regulating digestive function and visceral sensations. Dysfunction or miscommunication within this complex network of nerves and neurotransmitters can disrupt normal GI function and contribute to the development of IBS. Stress, anxiety, and other psychological factors can influence the brain-gut axis, leading to alterations in gut motility, visceral sensitivity, and immune function.

It's important to note that these potential causes of IBS are interconnected and can influence one another. For example, stress and anxiety can exacerbate visceral hypersensitivity and alter GI motility, leading to an increase in IBS symptoms. Similarly, abnormalities in gut motility can contribute to the development of visceral hypersensitivity and trigger symptoms of IBS.

While the exact mechanisms underlying IBS remain the subject of ongoing research, gaining a deeper understanding of these contributing factors can inform the development of targeted treatment strategies. By addressing the underlying causes of IBS, healthcare providers can help individuals manage their symptoms more effectively and improve their overall quality of life.

For further information about Dr. Stengler’s integrative approach to managing IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders, please visit our website at or call us at (760) 274-2377.

How is IBS diagnosed?

If you've been having uncomfortable GI symptoms, see your doctor. The first step in diagnosing IBS is a medical history and a physical exam. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms:

  • Do you have pain related to bowel movements?
  • Do you notice a change in how frequently you have a bowel movement?
  • Has there been a change in how your poop looks?
  • How often do you have symptoms?
  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • What medicines do you take?
  • Have you been sick or had a stressful event in your life lately?

Depending on your symptoms, you may need other tests to confirm a diagnosis. Blood tests, stool samples as well as X-rays can help rule out other conditions that resemble IBS.

What is IBS treatment?

No particular treatment works for everyone, but most individuals with IBS can find a treatment that works for them. Your doctor will customize your IBS treatment plan for your needs. Typical treatment options consist of dietary and lifestyle adjustments. A dietitian can help you create a diet that fits your life.

Many people find that with these changes, symptoms improve:

Dietary changes:

  • Increase fiber in your diet-- eat more fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts.
  • Include supplemental fiber to your diet, such as Metamucil ® or Citrucel ®. Drink plenty of water-- eight 8-ounce glasses per day.
  • Avoid caffeine (from coffee, chocolate, teas and sodas).
  • Limit cheese and milk. Lactose intolerance is more prevalent in individuals with IBS. Be sure to get calcium from other sources, such as broccoli, spinach, salmon or supplements.
  • Try the low FODMAP diet, an eating plan that can help improve symptoms.

Activity changes:

  • Exercise on a regular basis.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Try relaxation strategies.
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently.
  • Record the foods you eat so you can identify which foods trigger IBS flare-ups. Typical triggers are red peppers, green onions, red wine, wheat and cow's milk.

Medical changes:

  • Your doctor may prescribe antidepressant medications if you have depression and anxiety together with considerable abdominal pain.
  • Other medicines can help with diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain.
  • Probiotics might be an option for you. These "good bacteria" can help improve symptoms.

Speak with your doctor if your symptoms don't improve. You may require more tests to see if an underlying condition is causing the symptoms.

For further information about Dr. Stengler’s practice and his clinic in Carlsbad, California, please visit our website at or give us a call at (760) 274-2377. Contact Us Today

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